Condemn continued crackdown vs. activists amid lockdown – Anakpawis
Manila, Philippines – Amid lockdown and hardships being faced by farmers in various parts of the country, government armed forces carried out mass arrest of peasant activists in Brgy. Coral ni Lopez in Calaca town, Batangas, including a barangay councilor and the barangay secretary. The victims were brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.
“This is the very reason why we are screaming ‘Tulong, Hindi Kulong,’ as it is very obvious that poor sectors need urgent assistance under these circumstances, but the armed forces are out to carry out more abuses. We condemn this crackdown of peasant activists in Batangas, and we call on their immediate and unconditional release,” Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list former representative and Vice-Chairperson of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA).
Yesterday, elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Army and Philippine Air Force arrested six peasant activists namely Virgilio Vidal, a barangay councilor, Leovino Julongbayan, the barangay secretary, Marcelo Vidal, Doroteo Bautista, Roilan Tenorio and July Julongbayan. They are members of Samahan ng Magsasaka sa Coral ni Lopez (Samacolo), a local chapter of Samahan ng Magbubukid sa Batangas (Sambat). Sambat issued an urgent alert on social media yesterday and families of the victims claimed their houses were raided and the supposedly evidences were planted.
Sambat said that Samacolo was targeted as it is advancing the rights of poor peasants at the barangay, against land grabbing and cancellations of certificate of land ownership awards (cloas). Prior the latest abuse, the group’s leader Lamberto Asinas was already arrested last April 16. On May 9, the group also aided agricultural workers when it facilitated the distribution of cash assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment – Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (DOLE – BWSC) as sources of livelihood were shut down due to work stoppage on sugar fields.
“This is an indisputable proof that the Duterte government is callous of the plight of poor peasants affected by the lockdown. Its supposedly response to the pandemic is militarist, and geared towards violating the democratic rights of the people. We urge the people of Calaca to uphold social justice and democracy and join the call for the immediate release of peasant activists who are aiding those affected. We hold the Duterte regime, primarily accountable for this inhumane act amid this pandemic state of crisis,” the former lawmaker ended. ###